Nobel Prizes 2012
An audio / visual exploration of this year's Nobel prize winners.
Nobel prize for medicine or physiology
Awarded to John Gurdon (UK) and Shinya Yamanaka (Japan) for their work on stem cells. The results of their work have provided ways for researchers to , in essence, take fully formed adult cells and revert them back into an undifferentiated state. This technique allows researchers to ‘reset’ nearly any cell, returning its potential to become any other cell type within the body.
Gurdon and Yamanaka were recognised for the different approaches they took with their work. Gurdon demonstrated it was possible to take the genetic information from an adult cell and create a fully functioning clone from it, whereas Yamanaka essentially developed a way to ‘reset’ a specialised cell, returning it to a non-differentiated state.
In this video from the Guardian, prize winner Gurdon talks about his work and how his school teachers held little hope for his future science:
Earlier this year Gurdon gave a lecture at the Royal Institution where he discussed some of the science behind regenerative medicine. You can listen to the audio of the event here.
Nobel prize in physics
Awarded to Serge Haroche (France) and David Wineland (USA) for their work in studying the fundamental properties of light and matter. This was made possible through their ground-breaking work on ‘quantum optics’, in which they developed a method to to isolate and then study individual photons and charged particles (also known as ions).
The announcement for the 2012 Nobel prize in physics can be viewed below:
Henry Reich of Minute Physics provides a simplified explanation of this work, which essentially involves isolating individual photons or charged particles to study their properties.
Hot on the heels of the Nobel announcement for Physics, the Sixty Symbols team were on hand to discuss the work of Haroche and Wineland in more detail:
Nobel prize in Chemistry
This has been awarded to two US researchers, Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka whose work in biochemistry and molecular biology has helped us understand how the billions of cells in our body can sense their environment and communicate with each other.
In particular they are recognised for their study of G protein-coupled receptors, which are essentially receptors that span a cell’s membrane allowing information to be exchanged between the external and internal environment. It was through the use of X-Ray Crystallography that Lefkowitz and Kobilka were able to visualise and study the beautiful 3D structures of these receptor proteins.
The chemically-minded Periodic Videos team are on hand to give a simple overview of the work and research that was behind this year’s Nobel prize in Chemistry:
Lefkowitz was also previously awarded a Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine in 2009 and in the video below he discusses some of his research and its significance to medicine:
To get a better idea of some of the processes and pathways involved in cellular communication, watch the animation below. It visualises some of the biological interactions that occur inside the body in response to external stimuli, including the important role transmembrane receptors play as gatekeepers to eliciting a response at the cellular level:
What does a Nobel prize look like?
Finally, if you’ve ever wanted to know what a Nobel prize actually looks like, Martyn Poliakoff from Periodic Videos gets his hands on one in the Ri's famous lecture theatre:
Have you found any more great audio-visual content related to this year's prizes? Let us know below...
Nobel Prize official site